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Mapping of biodiversity impacts and hotspot products in Nordic food consumption
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Bioeconomy and Health, Agriculture and Food. (Hållbar konsumtion och produktion)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0086-8059
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Bioeconomy and Health, Agriculture and Food. (Jordbruk och trädgård)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8626-8328
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Bioeconomy and Health, Agriculture and Food. (Hållbar konsumtion och produktion)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0522-3591
2022 (English)Report (Other academic)Alternative title
Kartläggning av den nordiska livsmedelskonsumtionens påverkan på biologisk mångfald (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The climate impact of food production has been lively debated over the last decades. It is e.g. well known that some products have a higher climate impact in comparison to other food products. The biodiversity impact of different food products is however less known. To steer the food production in a positive direction as well as to enable consumers, restaurants, public kitchens, and the food industry to make well-informed decisions, we need to address and measure this impact. The aim of this study has been to examine the biodiversity impact of Nordic and European food consumption. In this report we present (1) a brief summary of biodiversity indicators linked to food production and consumption, (2) different methods to evaluate biodiversity impact of food products and (3) a literature review of studies that assess biodiversity impacts of food products and diets. Based on the literature review, we identify food products suggested to have a higher respectively lower negative impact on biodiversity and discuss what changes that could promote a Nordic diet with lower negative impact on biodiversity. Finally, we highlight knowledge gaps and possibilities for future work. There are different methods to examine the biodiversity impact on food products, such as life cycle assessment, input-output-model, and mapping tools. Biodiversity footprints are often based on the land use (area and intensity) in combination with parameters linked to where the production takes place and thus what biodiversity values can be affected. The consumed amount of food is also often considered – a product with a low impact per kg can get a high impact when consumed to a high degree and vice versa. Our literature review shows a variety of food products with high negative biodiversity impact. Particularly, products that are known drivers of deforestation in tropical regions, such as palm oil, coffee, and cacao – as well as meat and/or animal products that have been fed with soybeans derived from tropical regions have a high negative impact on biodiversity. On the other hand, consumption of foods as vegetables, starchy roots, and pulses – ideally with domestic origin – are examples of foods indicated to have lower biodiversity impact which would be beneficial to eat more of in the Nordic diet. There are also examples of agricultural systems where human interference is crucial for maintaining a high level of biodiversity, for example keeping grazing animals on high-naturevalue-grasslands. If these lands are abandoned or planted with forest, numerous of species will be extinct. Thus, meat linked to these grasslands can also support biodiversity, especially in the Nordic countries where there are relatively many of these landscapes left (in comparison to the rest of Europe). As the studies reviewed varied in their scope, methods, and results, they are difficult to compare. More research is needed to confirm our conclusions. Furthermore, none of the methods are flawless and there are obvious difficulties with finding a transferable and scalable unit – like CO2-equivalents – since biodiversity impacts are highly dynamic and sitespecific. Additionally, most of the reviewed studies do not consider transformation of natural areas driven by food production, e.g., deforestation, and may therefore be underestimating the impacts. In future studies, the reference systems may also be discussed and further developed, and more taxonomic groups (e.g., arthropods such as insects) should preferably be included.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2022. , p. 40
Series
RISE Rapport ; 2022:25
Keywords [en]
Biodiversity ; Impact assessment ; Food consumption ; Diets
National Category
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ri:diva-59111ISBN: 978-91-89561-42-7 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ri-59111DiVA, id: diva2:1652816
Available from: 2022-04-20 Created: 2022-04-20 Last updated: 2023-06-08Bibliographically approved

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Ahlgren, SerinaMorell, KarinHallström, Elinor

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